Today and the Future

April 14, 2011

Time to reflect

This winter I read a blog post called Can You Predict The Future Technologies in Your Classroom? written by Patrick Ledesma. Patrick is part of the Classroom Ambassador Fellowship program sponsored by the US Department of Education.

He had attended a national meeting where the presenter asked the participants questions that included these words: innovation, creativity, teaching, learning, creative expression, and new media. We know as arts educators that all of these words relate to the work we do each day in our classrooms. Other educators, and people who are outside of the education system, don’t necessarily see the connection with creativity and innovation to arts education.

So, this post is about two topics. One is to ask you what you’re doing in your classroom today that is different than what you were doing in the past to address or incorporate technology for the “natives”? The other question is what are you doing to connect and collaborate with other arts educators in your building or school district to strengthen your programs? In my mind these questions go hand in hand. Hopefully this blog post will give you a reason to “pause” and/or “ask yourself questions” and/or to “reach out to a colleague”.

Times are tough in education, no question about it. Will we face what is happening with anger or fear or embrace it as a challenge that will make us better teachers and provide high quality educational opportunities for our students? That’s up to each individual.

The 21st Century Skills Arts Map which was created by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills provides teachers with guidance on how arts skills provide what is needed in today’s world. Does your school administration and other teaching staff understand that when we talk about innovation and creativity that many skills are introduced and mastered in the arts classroom?

So, here is a segment from Patrick’s blog post from Education Week located on Leading from the Classroom blog, February 21st.

“Does your school have a culture of innovation or does your school have pockets of innovation?”

Expanding on the idea of a culture of innovation, we discussed the recent 2011 Horizon Report from the New Media Consortium and the Educause Learning Initiative. This report “examines emerging technologies for their potential impact on and use in teaching, learning, and creative inquiry.”

Members of the Horizon Project Advisory Board, which is made up of mostly university researchers and corporations (note to New Media and Educause: more K-12 representation next time please….), were asked the following questions:

1) Which of these key technologies will be most important to teaching, learning, or creative expression within the next five years?

2) What key technologies are missing from our list?

3) What trends do you expect to have a significant impact on the ways in which learning-focused institutions approach our core missions of teaching, research, and service?

4) What do you see as the key challenge(s) related to teaching, learning, or creative expression that learning-focused institutions will face during the next 5 years?

The Horizon Report Wiki shows the various stages and development of the report. For example, you can view the early results to see the original 43 technologies, 14 trends, and 19 challenges listed by the board members. I think this early list is as interesting as the final list since it shows the variety of ideas and opinions.

In today’s educational arena when reflecting on practices including curriculum, teaching, and assessment it is important to consider collaborating with colleagues. Some of us teach in a “connected manner” by planning with other teachers to create integrated lessons or units. Standard E of our Maine Learning Results states: Visual and Performing Arts Connections: Students understand the relationship among the arts, history and world culture; and they make connections among the arts and to other disciplines, to goal-setting, and to interpersonal interaction. Some teachers report they believe this is easier at some grade levels than others. However now more than ever it is in our best interest to link arms, so to speak, especially with arts colleagues. Each of the art forms has benefits to students overall growth and development for a variety of reasons. If we divide our commitment it will have a negative impact in the long run.

Please ask yourself: where are you today in your teaching? Where have you been and what changes have you made since your first year? And just as important, where are you headed?


  1. Wow! There’s a lot of important and current information in that post, Argy. I can’t agree more with the collaboration aspects and how important they are to our teaching in the arts. The biggest difference I am beginning to see from a few decades ago is that the other “core” areas are coming to the arts for collaboration. We seem to be on the same footing and can share collaboratively toward similar goals for students. At our school we hung an “art show” this week that was created by an algebra class that plotted a series of their own formulas to divide up space (shades of Georges Seurat?) in an interesting and “balanced” manner on a sheet of one inch grid graph paper. The art and math teachers collaborated on a set of arts criteria to apply color schemes to the designs created by the plotted lines. Art students and math students “juried” five pieces independently and three of the same pieces were chosen by each group. Interesting correlation!

  2. So very wonderful that you shared this info Charlie! All to often I hear from high school teachers that it is difficult to collaborate at that level. I think it is great that you have more than one example from Mount Desert Island High School of integrated units across curricula areas. And over and over I hear from you Charlie that others look to the arts and come to you for collaborative ideas. FANTASTIC!

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